is often described as a peaceful way of life. But the weather,
fluctuating prices, animal and crop diseases, government programs
and regulations, loan payments, and working the crops can
cause a tremendous amount of stress for farmers and their
families. According to the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH), farmers represent an occupational
group with one of the highest levels of job-related stress.
Stress is a person's reaction to something considered a challenge
or a threat. It is the emotional strain and pressure exerted
on mental and physical being by oneself and others. When under
stress, the body begins to "gear up" for action. This makes
a person stronger and more alert, but it also takes more energy.
up" under stress, the body begins to do more of some things
and less of others. Blood circulation increases, but digestion
slows down or even stops. This could lead to major health problems,
such as heart disease and ulcers. Other less severe but serious
health problems include sleeplessness, headaches, and poor digestion.
With Other People Under stress,
most people become so wrapped up in their own problems that
they forget about everyone else. At the same time, they begin
to take out their feelings on family members and friends. Stress
quickly becomes a problem for the entire family--not just for
in the Workplace For a short
time, stress may make someone a better, more efficient worker.
But over the long haul, a person will wear down, becoming physically
weaker and tiring more easily. A lack of concentration may result
in poor management decisions. This can be especially dangerous
when operating machinery.
Stress Stress will
have a snowball effect. All the problems it causes with personal
health, family, and work will become new troubles. Without learning
how to control it, stress can become an endless cycle.
a good look at yourself. How do you feel--both physically
a list of things that cause stress in your life.
about how serious a problem stress is for you. Do you feel
under constant stress, or does it come and go? Think about
how stress hurts you. How has it affected your health and
work? How has it changed the way you treat other people?
try to decide if you are under more stress now than you
were a year or two ago. If stress has increased, have the
pressures changed or your attitude toward them?
about problems is a good way to relieve stress. Choose someone
you can be honest with, and then share your problems and
discuss solutions with them.
how to recognize stressors. These might be a tightening
of the neck and shoulders, stomach problems, or changes
in behavior or relationships. The body is equipped with
a complex system that give warning signs when the stress
level is too high.
at the list of things that cause you stress and think about
how serious each of them really is. Pick out things that
no one can control, such as prices and the weather. Then,
when feeling stressed, evaluate the cause. Is it something
minor or something you have no ability to control?
dealing with a major problem, try to break it down into
smaller parts. If the barn needs repair, pick out one job
and concentrate on getting it done. Once that task is completed,
go on to the next one.
the time realistically. Don't try and squeeze more work
into a day than can be completed.
occasional short breaks from work. A few minutes will provide
a refreshing start at the job.
how to relax. Sit back in a chair and concentrate on relaxing
other interests that will help you forget about your problems
for a while. Go to a movie or get involved in sports, hobbies,
outside help, such as counseling or group clinics. In Oklahoma,
the Ag-Link Hotline provides counseling through it's toll-free
telephone hotline. For information and assistance, call
Fight stress by taking care of yourself. Here are some tips
from the American Heart Association:
Regular physical activity makes a person feel better and
eases tension at the same time.
well. A balanced diet is good for physical and mental health.
Food is fuel for the body. The better the input, the better
and rest. Make sure to get enough sleep and rest to refresh
the mind and body.
work and play. Besides being just plain fun, recreation
can help a person enjoy work more.
to accept the things you cannot change. Look for the best
in people and situations. Remember, no one is perfect. Realize
that fiscal and time pressure challenges due to weather,
crop prices, and market demand are beyond your control.
Safety Association, Unit 22, 340 Woodlawn Road West, Guelph,
Ontario, Phone: 519-823-5600
Lee Brock, Crisis Line Coordinator, Ag-Link, Farmers Union
Foundation, P.O. 24000, Oklahoma City, OK 73124, Phone:
information about agricultural safety and health, contact: Project
Director, Oklahoma Agricultural Health, Promotion System, Biosystems
and Agricultural Engineering, 226 Agricultural Hall, Oklahoma
State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, Phone: 405-744-5427;
or The National Institute for Occupational Safety, and Health,
4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45226, Phone: 800-35-NIOSH
Director, Oklahoma Agricultural Health, Promotion System,
Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, 226 Agricultural
Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, Phone:
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.